Okay. Stand at the foot of the yoga mat that you OF COURSE have just lying around your house, waiting for a little impromptu Downward-Facing Dog.

Lift your right foot. Now you look like a flamingo. (That’s you—long-legged and graceful as a wetlands beauty. DO NOT look in a mirror or a Zoom camera. Trust me on this.)

Bend down slowly to touch the mat at your feet. Feel free to bend your knee; that’s not cheating. Here’s the trick: Don’t let your hips rock out, so your right foot crosses behind your left leg. If you do, things are going to go wrong for the flamingo. Pelvis stays straight, like the flamingo has one of those carpenter’s levels embedded in it.

Now you’re standing there like Twister; one foot on the ground and one in the air, and two feet on the mat. Feels awkward, huh?

Don’t put that foot down. Walk your hands out farther and farther until you’re stretched over them in a plank. Again, no need to verify in mirror or Zoom lens; if you’re ANYWHERE NEAR a plank position, close enough. Win.

Don’t hang out there too long; you’re going to get tired. As soon as you’ve gotten your hips as low as you care to take them in that plank, start backing up those hands. Keep that foot in the air. Push that butt upwards.

Back up.

Back up.

Back up.

Pretty soon you’re to the point where there’s no more backing up without serious negotiations with the belly. Force your way past that point, until you’re once again in the original Twister pose; hands by your feet, one leg in the air and the other on the ground; both knees bent. Ass up. Praying that no one walks in and sees this foolishness.

Okay. Now REALLY make sure your pelvis isn’t tilted, because this is where shit gets real:

Stand up.

Don’t put that foot down. Weight in your standing heel. Glutes and abs have to work together. Go slowly or you’ll topple over completely. Haul it slowly and unstable-ly up to vertical.

Stand there, aghast and panting, crazed by how hopelessly hard that was. And then Chip says “Great! Two more times on that leg, and then three on the other and we’ll move on!” He says it like it will be no problem.

Does he not know me AT ALL??

I have no greater message. I just wanted to bitch. I mean—jeez, man!

Reject It


I’m always late to work. It is known, Khaleesi.

For the entirety of my professional career, my annual reviews were generally good. People were happy with the work I was doing. But I was chronically and eternally begged by my bosses to do two simple things:

Put your shoes on.

Get to work on time.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t giving my bosses a full day’s work; I’ve got a pretty powerful measure of concentration, and I was generally doing more work than anyone else in the same position. No, the problem was that I was setting a bad example for other employees, who WERE being held to business hours. I needed to respect that, too.

Every year.

Every year.

Every year.

And every year I would promise to do better. Until I began promising to TRY to do better. And then one year (poor Greg Adams was my supervisor at the time) I suddenly thought – I’m done promising something that I just don’t seem to be able to do. “No. I’m not going to. Dock my pay instead,” I suggested.

He goggled at me. Poor man; I’m not an easy person to manage. “I can’t do that. Come to work on time. Please.”

“I can lie if you want, but you and I know that it’s just not going to happen.”

When I became a freelancer, many MANY people were relieved.

That moment was a watershed for me. It took me decades to realize that intentions weren’t enough, and there was no sense wasting anyone’s time by pretending that they were.

I’m having that moment now. Ten days late, but I’m having it all the same.

I went to my doctor for my physical. I need paperwork filled out for my cruise to Antarctica in November so I made the appointment. Physicals now are conducted in such an amazingly cursory fashion that I didn’t even have to get undressed. My doctor spent time encouraging me to vote (which – duh. Of course.) and then we reviewed my exercise regime. Which, come on. It’s totally impressive, and more than 80% of her patients are doing.

She poked at my belly for a while and listened to my lungs and my heart. She signed me up for labs. (My cholesterol is too high. Again, duh. I’ve been living on ice cream. But that’s a post for another time.)

And then she said “I need to tell you that you should lose weight.”

“Thanks,” I said, not meaning it at all.

It’s rankled in me for TEN DAYS. I weighed 250 pounds on her scale – four pounds more than last year. I am one solid muscle, which of course weighs more than fat. But she didn’t care. She had no words of encouragement; she had no support to offer me. She just said what her Kaiser Permanente algorithm would let her say. “Lose weight.”

And now, ten days later, what I wish I’d said (and what I will say next time) was “NO.”

I wish I’d said “For sixty years doctors have been telling me to lose weight—and I have tried. I have dieted and exercised. I’ve cried and panicked. I’ve planned and plotted. And I’ve been ashamed of my failures. For SIXTY YEARS.

“But here’s what I’m realizing: I didn’t fail. YOU failed. Your medicine has entirely bypassed me. You’ve offered nothing at all to do this miraculous thing you want—this losing weight thing. Nothing that would allow me to lose weight and keep it off, safely and naturally. BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT EITHER.”

So fuck you, Kaiser. You’ve denigrated and dismissed me one too many times. If you can’t help, stop getting in my way. I’m managing my health; you’re not.

I’m not getting to work on time.

I’m not going to wear shoes.

And you don’t know any more than I do about losing weight. Health is the goal, not some number on a scale.

I swear. Greg Adams is lucky I was so mild-mannered!